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February 1967

Unilateral and Bilateral Electroconvulsive Therapy: A Comparative Study

Author Affiliations

Somerset, England; Ann Arbor, Mich
From the Mendip Hospital, Wells, Somerset, England (Dr. Cannicott) and the Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Dr. Waggoner).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(2):229-232. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730200097013

UNILATERAL convulsive therapy (ECT) is a technique in which a current is passed across the nondominant cerebral hemisphere, producing a generalized convulsion as a treatment modality. A lessened degree of memory disturbance is claimed as compared to the bilateral procedure. This research project was aimed at comparing the effect of the unilateral and bilateral procedures.

A well-known psychiatrist who had received a course of bilateral ECT treatment wrote as follows:

One of the most celebrated effects of ECT is the memory loss it induces. This can be alarming, as whole tracts of memory seem to be expunged without trace. Memory for recent events, during the week or so preceding treatment, appears to be the most severely affected. Memories for events of several years ago seem to be impaired hardly at all.

This subjective report has been confirmed by the work of Cronholm and Molander,1 who

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